Thursday, November 13, 2014

Life Since the Closet and What's Next:"Coming Out" Pt. 4

Coco Chanel had it right.

I've experienced a lot of beauty in the past three months, more than I ever thought I would in my life.

I've experienced the beauty in others (especially in those who commented or sent me a message on Facebook after I posted the link to my coming out post, as well as the many others who sent me a text or gave me a call after they read that first post.)

I've experienced the beauty of motherhood and how wonderful it is when you are happy and fully present for your children.

I've experienced the beauty of being in love with an amazing person who has stayed right by my side through everything these past few months and provides me with continual support.

I've experienced the beauty in myself as I continue to grow as a person, a whole person, rather than the shell that I once was.

Finally, I've experienced the beauty in understanding what those who have taken this journey before me meant when they said that it would be better once I finally decided to live my life honestly and without

However, that's just the beginning of what has happened since I hit "publish" on that first post while holding my breath, with my heart pounding.

(If you're new and not exactly sure what you've wandered into, you might want to read my previous posts, you can begin with part 1 here and then move on to part 2 and part 3 from there.)

Quite a few other things have happened since coming out as well, some of which were unexpected. One of those unexpected things was that I actually had to, and still do have to, "convince" people of my sexuality. I've heard the following phrase more times than I can count:

"...But, YOU don't look like a Lesbian!"

Mmmkay....First of all, what the hell does a Lesbian look like? I know I'm new to the scene, but I don't recall getting a memo about what I needed to look like when I was born and if it was, in fact, sent out then I'm not the only one that didn't get it because I know a lot of Lesbians that are feminine.We are not unicorns. We do exist. Yes, some women who identify as a Lesbian are more masculine than what we typically see in the general population, and some are, let's face it, really masculine. However, that's doesn't mean we all are. I like makeup, the color pink, girly glittery crap, and I'm a Lesbian. I'm not any less of a Lesbian than anyone who "looks like one" thank you very much. Yes, I realize that some people say it thinking that it's a compliment, but to me and many others it's really more of an insult because it implies that we are not "real" lesbians just because we might not own any flannel.

As far as the other things that have happened as a result of me coming out, I have to say that I've been pleasantly surprised for the most part.

Those who I thought would judge me because of their religious beliefs were actually some of the most accepting people, which was surprising and also a good lesson for me on the importance of not assuming what others think.

Most of my friendships have stayed the same or have improved since I came out and I have made even more friends as a result. 

Oh, and while we are one the subject of relationships, I want to address something that I said in an earlier post, which is that my family was less than thrilled when I came out to them. I think I need to clarify what their responses actually were especially because my sister was a wee-bit pissed off after she read that part of my post because it made her feel as though I was calling her homophobic when she isn't. Her reaction was less than ideal mostly because she was concerned about how everything would affect the kids and I can understand that. However, for the record, she's been pretty supportive since then and I really don't think she gives a crap about her sister being a total lez. 

My dad's reaction was actually kind of humorous. After I emailed him to tell him that I was gay (because I was too chicken shit to do it in person), his return email said, "What a coincidence, I like women too." and that was it. That's my dad for you. Brief and to the point. 

So, the only reason why I said that their reaction was less than ideal is because I wanted them to assure me that they still loved me no matter what and wanted me to be happy. I can admit though, that my expectation was probably too high, not because they don't love me or want me to be happy, but because we, as a family, tend to avoid sharing our feelings.

While their responses were less than ideal, they were still not as bad as what I expected. On the contrary, my brother's was much worse than I expected. It was actually quite devastating and probably the worst response that I've gotten from anyone thus far (and that includes my father-in-law who hated me anyway).

Unfortunately, I made the mistake of thinking that he would be the most accepting and understanding given that he has many friends that are gay and is pretty supportive of the community. It turns out that I was very wrong. He was not at all accepting or understanding. Instead of , "You're still my sister and I love you." It was, "You're a "selfish fucking bitch"  (which is actually a direct quote and something that he said several times throughout our conversation). He didn't stop there, though. He said many more really hurtful things, including that he believed that I wasn't really gay and that I just wanted attention. 

In summary, he yelled while I cried and then we hung up and I cried some more. 

According to him, his reaction was based off of his concern for my husband and children, rather than the fact that I was gay but even if that is the case, a simple "I have some concerns about some things I want to talk to you about later, but for now just know I still love you and you're still my sister." would have sufficed.

While I'm thinking about it, here's a little advice for those of you who will experience a friend or family member coming out to you. Please do me a favor and keep your reaction simple and sweet. The greatest fear that most people have is that they will not be believed or that they will no longer be loved, or both. Please just tell them that you still love them and then, for the love of all things that are holy, WAIT to talk to them about any other concerns you have. Choose your words carefully because they can't be taken back. I will NEVER forget my brother's reaction and the words he said to me and I don't think he will ever comprehend how painful it was for me to hear them. His reaction forever changed our relationship, and not in a positive way. 

It pretty much ruined it, actually. 

Okie-dokie. Now that I've clarified all of that, we can move on to the other things that have happened since my coming out post.

The first of them is that my marriage is now over. After a couple months of negotiation and many pages of paperwork, I officially filed for divorce on October 29th. It should be final at the end of January as long as things don't change (In Utah, there is a mandatory 90 day waiting period until a decree is granted).

As far as my relationship with my soon to be ex-husband and I, things are pretty up and down. He has a lot of anger towards me that tends to seep out sporadically, sometimes in a pretty vengeful manner. His anger is understandable, but the way he handles it is not always justified. I'm hopeful that this will eventually pass and that we will be able to become friends one day, but until then I'm just trying to roll with things and understand that he's acting the way he is because he's hurt, not because he's an asshole (although sometimes it really feels like he's being quite asshole-ish). 

In the end though, I think we can both admit that our marriage wasn't a happy one and that we had many problems aside from me being gay. I think that even though he might not see it now, the fact of the matter is that he was miserable as well. I couldn't make him happy and he couldn't make me happy. We gave it a good try, 15 years to be exact. However, it just wasn't meant to be.

Our current living situation is a little different than most. We have chosen to do what  is called, "nesting" for the time being. "Nesting" is a type of custody arrangement where the children stay in the family home and the parents switch off living in the home according to when their scheduled time is to be with the children. In our case, I stay at the home 5 days a week and then stay somewhere else for 2 days a week when it's his turn to be with the kids and vice versa. It's not easy and I don't know how long it will last before we eventually decide it's too much for both of us, but that's how it is for now, at least. I do have to say that I think there are some positive aspects of it. First, it has helped us see how hard it is for the kids to switch off at each parents house so when the time comes we can understand what they are going through a little more. Second, I think it's made things a little easier on the kids and is a good way to make the transition as smooth as possible. Last, we are able to communicate more with each other about our time with them and let the other one know any concerns that we have when we make the switch.

(I have to say that the one thing about our divorce that is nice is that we are in agreement that we need to do everything possible to put the kids first. We've had a few hiccups, of course, but we really are both committed to doing what's best for them, which is part of the reason why we chose the "nesting" arrangement for now.)

Speaking of the kids, I'm loving being a mom more than I think I ever have before. I was a pretty good mom before I came out, but I'm a much better one now. I actually do things with my kids and truly enjoy the time I have with them. Sadly, this hasn't always been the case. In fact, if you told me 6 months ago that I would be taking my kids to public places, let alone crowded public places, I would have laughed in your face. Just the thought of doing something like that gave me severe anxiety, enough that I would usually make up excuse to get out of it, or even just flat out refuse to do whatever required me leaving my house. Luckily, things are very different now. I still get anxious, of course, but it's gotten a lot better. I even went ice skating with Destructo a few weeks ago. Ice skating! That's a HUGE difference, people! Huge!

That brings me to my final update, which is about my relationship with M and how awesome it is. I can't express to you how much that woman means to me and how much I love her. She helped me find courage I didn't know I had and has held my hand every step of the way these last few months. My kids absolutely adore her and I love watching her with them. She's just...well, she's just fucking amaze-balls, is what she is!! I enjoy every minute that we are together and miss her every minute that we aren't. I'm one lucky-ducky for sure.

(Okay, I know what you're probably thinking because I've been asked so many times and the answer is no, we are not u-hauling it (google it if you don't know what it is), or getting married any time soon just because marriage equality happened in Utah. We both know we have a good thing going and don't want to jeopardize that by doing something we aren't ready for. We love each other and that's all that matters for now. ) 

On a final note, I want to say that I truly cannot believe how much of a difference coming out has made in my life, most of it being positive. Living as my true self has made life much more fun than it was when I was living a lie. Life is just better when you accept yourself as is and stop trying to be someone you aren't. It's not perfect of course, and there are some days when things are actually pretty tough for me, but the difference is that I can handle the tough stuff now, rather than just retreating to my room, which I nicknamed, "the cave" because I was in it so often before. I'm actually living my life now, which is a great place to be in.

It only took about 20 years for me to start (I'm a slow learner).

So that's it! The final post of my coming out story is now finished. If you made it through all of them, congratulations. If they helped you in any way, whether that be in developing a better understanding for what life can be like for those of us who are fabulous enough to be gay or regarding something in your own life, then it makes it that much more worthwhile.

Love those dimples!

P.S. It really did get better.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Why I (FINALLY) Removed The Closet Door:"Coming Out" Pt. 3

If you've read part 1 and part 2 of this post you are now aware of the fact that I am a Lesbian.

If not, Surprise! I'm a Lesbian!

For Reelz, Y'all.


Now that you know, and have hopefully absorbed it and accepted it, I wanted to explain why I decided to come out this way, on the internet, rather than just come out privately to family and friends.

Before I do that, however, I want to let you know that it was both an easy and a difficult decision. I actually went back and forth about it for quite a while before I began writing that first post more than a month ago.

Originally, I dismissed the idea of posting my story. I didn't really want to make a big deal out of the fact that I chose to finally disclose the fact that I am a Lesbian, because when it comes down to it, it's really not that big of a deal, or it shouldn't be at least. 

You see, being a Lesbian is just one part of what makes me, me and I felt as though making it "official" might be sending a message that I didn't really want to send, which is that being Gay is something that I'm confessing to, as if it is wrong or something that should be kept a secret when it most certainly is not wrong, nor should it have to be kept a secret. I wouldn't write a blog post about the fact that I have some weird red freckle on my right boob, so why should I feel it necessary to come out and talk about something else about me that just happens to be a part of my DNA, like my natural hair color, or that weird red freckle?

Then, something happened to me personally that reminded me of why I did need to post my story.


It happened in the waiting room of my gynecologists office when I was sitting with M who I made come with me because I am a big baby and hadn't been to one in about 8 years (Disclaimer: Don't do this! It is very bad to not get your vag checked out on a regular basis!). 

Anyway, as M and I sat there and waited for my appointment (which took a really long time because my doctor had to go deliver a baby) I started noticing something peculiar happening. It was something that I may not even have noticed if it hadn't been for the fact that I had been to so many OB appointments with my husband when I was pregnant with my two kids.

We were getting stared at.

A lot.

Not cutesy little stares like the ones I would get when my husband sat in the waiting room with me all those years ago when I was pregnant with Diva and Destructo, whether I was showing or not (you know, the kind where someone looks at the cute couple, breaks out into a little half-smile, probably thinking it's cute that the boyfriend/husband chose to come along?). No, these stares were not like those kind at all. Some were actually the same kinds of stares that I see when people are fascinated by the tigers at the zoo.

Umkay, so some of these people were probably just curious. I get that. It doesn't bother me if someone does a little bit of a double take when they see M and I out in public together, because we are damn good lookin'. How can they not be jealous of our cuteness? 

Okay, because of that and also because the truth of the matter is that "we" are not the norm, so I can see how people may notice us more than they would a straight couple. It's not like I never do the same thing. For example, on the rare occasion that I go to Walmart, I often myself staring at the interesting fashion choices made by some of the other shoppers. 

Before moving on with the rest of my story, though, I do want to make it clear that we were not making some sort of Lesbian scene out of ourselves by making out, or even holding hands. We were simply leaning into each other while we talked and we only really touched when I momentarily took my feet out of my flip flops and put them on her ankle because they were freakin' freezing and I needed to warm them up (because I'm polite like that). I didn't think it was a big deal. I've seen straight couples do a hell of a lot more than that without a second look from anyone. I guess it was enough to offend a couple of people though, because their particular stares were definitely not curious. Some were even downright rude. 

Who would have thought my cute little frozen feet could be so offensive? 

Anyway, at one point, an older woman sat down across from us, looked over at both of us, and immediately looked annoyed. I figured she was probably just in a bad mood and didn't think anything of it, but then I noticed the expression on her face had changed into one of disgust. Then, after a few minutes had passed, she stood up, still staring at us, gave a huge pissed off sigh and walked around the corner to another section of the waiting room and sat down there. When we walked by her on our way to the examination room a few minutes later I caught her eye again and she gave us the same look that she had before. 

Later, I asked M if she had noticed it and she said she had. I asked her if she thought it was because the woman had realized we were a couple and if that had happened to her before and she told me, pretty nonchalantly, that things like that were a pretty common occurrence. I was not only shocked but I was also pissed. In part because it's one thing to know that hate like that exists towards others, but it's another to actually experience it yourself.

Unfortunately, what happened in the doctors office that day, hasn't been the only time we've experienced homophobia as a couple, either (aside from the fact that we can't even hold hands or hug each other in public without being stared at like we just did a triple back flip off the high dive). 

We actually experienced it again when we went up to Sundance resort last month because M somehow convinced me to risk certain death and ride some rickety chairlift to the top of some mountain, which the resort opens up specifically for people to ride every full moon during the summer and fall. It actually ended up being pretty fun (except for the few times I thought I might fall to my death).  

Apparently, though, some jerks don't understand that the point of the ride is not to be a dick by yelling out slurs (which I won't even repeat) at people that you don't even know for sure are Gay. 

Unfortunately, we happened to end up on the lift right in front of some people who must have missed that memo and they did their best to ruin my perfectly executed anxiety attack as we crept up the mountain. Luckily, we were able to laugh at how ridiculous Douche Lord's homophobia was and didn't let it end up ruining the ride for us. 

Later, while M and I were talking about the major douche lord on the chair lift and his douche bag friends who joined in, she told me she has learned to tune things like that out over the years and that it doesn't really bother her most of the time. It was then that I realized that I was going to have to learn to not let experiences like this bother me, which is not something that is easy for me to do, but I am slowly getting better at it (even though it's definitely not right for anyone, regardless of who they are, to have to deal with crap like that).

Now, I'm sure that some of you might be wondering why I would risk experiencing even more homophobia by coming out, especially on the internet where everyone can see this post. Well, I do have an answer and it's quite a simple one. It's actually because I feel like it's a way for me to show others what the consequences are when they decide act out of fear. 

Yes, fear. 

(Do you hear me, douche lord and friends?). 

That might seem weird of me to say, but think about it for a second. We, as individuals and as a society, generally fear what we do not know. Therefore, I personally feel that by coming out and showing those who know me, as well as those who don't, that I'm a real person with real feelings, that it might help some people get over their own fear, which might even end up softening some hearts a little towards me and the LGBTQ community in general. I guess I feel this way because I've experienced it for myself on several occasions when I've gotten to know people, who I prematurely judged before getting to know them. 

Okay, moving on to the other reasons why I ended up making the decision that I did:


When I first realized that I was definitely a Lesbian, I made one very important promise to myself, and that was that if I ever found myself in a relationship with another woman, I would not hide her, or our relationship. I knew that it would be completely disrespectful and unfair to do that to a person that I loved. 

I have to say that I really didn't think this would ever happen in a million years due to the fact that I was determined to stay closeted for my entire life and the fact that I didn't feel that I would ever meet someone who would love and accept me for who I really am.  

However, as soon as I realized that I was in love and that I was entering into a relationship, it became clear to me that I needed to begin preparing myself to "come out" and I began to do so little by little. I did so partially because I wanted to be able to share my life with M and keeping our relationship hidden wasn't the way to do that. It would be like forcing her back into the closet, which just isn't right. 

Besides she's claustrophobic so she'd probably resist, anyway.

My children

Yes, despite what some might think, I really was thinking of my children when I decided to take the closet door off. This is partially because I knew that I was a complete hypocrite. Not only that, but I was lying to them every single day. As a mother, I am continually teaching them about the importance of being honest and being true to themselves and here I was, doing the complete opposite of that. 

I think this was definitely part of the reason why it became so hard to look at myself in the mirror each day and to feel like I was doing a decent job as a mother, as well as part of the reason why I struggled so much with anxiety and depression. 

If you’ve ever struggled with depression as a parent, you understand that it can be extremely difficult to give your children what they need from you, especially emotionally, when you are depressed, which does negatively affect your relationship with them despite your best effort to not let it do so. 

I knew this was the case with me, but it really hit me when Destructo started telling everyone that all I did was spend time in my room and sleep all day (which was only partially true, but still not right). I realized then that I had to do whatever I could in order to get healthy for my children so that I could be the mom I wanted to be. This meant that I had to somehow find true happiness, which is something that I really didn't believe was possible to do. However, I had to at least try, and the only thing I hadn't tried all of these years was living honestly, so I decided to give that a try and tell my children my secret. I ended up telling Diva first and Destructo a few days later.

It was scary, but they both handled the news really well. To tell you the truth though, I was actually a lot more nervous about how others, including their friends and peers, would handle it. 

Quite frankly, it was scary as hell to think that my kids may be treated differently or teased because of my sexuality. In the end though, I realized that being honest with my children was more important. They needed a mom that they could trust and who was fully present for them, and I really wasn’t that mom until the moment I made the decision to come out.

Before I wrote the actual blog post though, I wanted to make sure that it was something that Diva would be okay with, considering half my Facebook friends are other parents and dancers at the dance studio she takes at, meaning that she sees most of them on a regular basis. Outing myself was outing her in a sense and I needed to make sure she understood what that meant and what the repercussions might be for her and our family. 

I ended up approaching her the night before I hit "publish" as she was getting ready for bed. We talked about it for quite a while and I explained that I was hesitant about publishing the post because I was still unsure of what the impact would be and how it might affect her. She surprised me a little with her response by saying that it was my decision and she was okay with whatever I decided no matter what came out of it. She also said that she thought it would be a good thing for me to share my story, especially if it helped others and that if anyone had a problem with it, she'd just "tell them to go to hell."

Isn't she just super awesome?

Other LGBTQ individuals

They say that the single important thing an LGBTQ person can do is to come out of the closet.  Not only is it considered important for our own health, but it's also important for the sake of other LGBTQ individuals, and the community as a whole. 

One of the reasons given for this, is that it is generally thought that the more people who decide to come out of the closet and live openly, the more tolerant society will become because it's much harder for those who know and love us to justify inequality and discrimination once they are aware that someone they love is negatively impacted by it. 

It also gives the community more voices, therefore more power, to change and enact legislation to provide protection and equal rights for LGBTQ individuals and families. This is very important to me because, as most of you know, I am a Social Justice nut. It's why I chose to major in Social Work and it's why I'm considering a career in Social Justice related work. I have always been passionate about equality and human rights for others. There have been many times when I felt like a hypocrite for not being open about my sexuality while I was arguing for rights for my fellow LGBTQ friends.

remember one day as I argued about discrimination with someone, a thought hit me that ended up being yet another reason why I felt that I needed to come out. 

What kind of message was I truly sending to others like me by staying closeted? 

My answer to that went something like this:

"Hey everyone! I know I am fighting for your rights and defending our community and all, but I'm actually too good to join you in truth, so I'll just sit in my closet and pretend to be someone I'm not even though I'm telling you that you should feel safe living openly." 

Convincing, right?

Not really.

What I find to be most important about coming out though, besides the benefits to our health from living honestly as well as making a political statement in support of human rights, is that it gives others who are too afraid to come out of the closet hope and support so that they can one day be ready to do so if they desire. 

I believe that if I had known there was someone just like me who could understand what I was going through and who I could talk to when I first realized who I was, that I would have saved myself and my family much heartbreak by finding my courage much earlier.

(I probably would have done a lot less stupid things too, which would have been nice and saved me some of the money that I spent on therapy.)

So, It is because of what I experienced that I really wanted to use this blog to help others see that they are not alone in their journey. I wanted to be able help others out there who are struggling like I did for all those years, because sometimes we just need one person to tell us that we are okay and that we are not alone in all of this (I happen to have a thick skull, so I needed several more than that, I guess). Anyway, I know how deeply painful it is to feel all alone in the world because I felt that way for most of my life. It's not a pretty place to be in and it can create a lot of problems for a person. LGBTQ individuals, especially teenagers, are at a higher risk for self-harm, substance abuse, and suicide.


I just want to let that word sink in for a little bit. 

Can you imagine wanting to die simply because you feel as though you are not worth anything or that you are somehow defective because of who you are? That everyone would be better off without having you in their lives? I can, which is why I felt it so important to take the risk of coming out. If I can help just one person by being able to identify with them and give them hope through this blog, then this whole thing is worth it in itself, aside from all of the positive impact that it's had in my life. 

While I don't pretend to think that these blog posts actually have the power to end up saving a life or to help someone make the decision to come out just by reading them, I am hopeful that I might have the privilege of being at least one voice out of the many a person might need to help them as they travel along their own path to self-acceptance.

Although I can say that once you begin to get there, it really is a beautiful thing.

{Side note: I want to make it clear that individuals who identify as LGBTQ must be allowed to come out in their own time. It is not fair to ever force one out of the closet. There are many reasons why individuals stay closeted. In my own state, we do not have protection from housing and employment discrimination, which is a huge problem for many of us. I also live in a fairly conservative state, where there is a lot of homophobia present, another reason why someone might want to stay closeted. It is NEVER okay to try to force someone out of the closet, or "out" them to ANYONE without their permission. When I first told my husband 5 years ago that I was a Lesbian, he ended up venting to a friend and "outing" me. When we decided to get back together, it created a lot of awkwardness, which my husband did apologize for. If you know or love someone who is currently in the closet, please respect them and their choice. Instead, give them all of the love and support that you can. Let them know that they are okay and that they are loved. Give them time to find their own courage. Okie Dokie?}


This is definitely the single most important reason for my decision and, like I said above, I feel that it should be the case for all LGBTQ individuals who make the decision to come out. 

It took me over 20 years, from the time I realized that I was a Lesbian as a young teenager until the time I finally came to terms with it and realized that I was sick and tired of pretending to be someone I wasn't and that I really wasn't living my life. I was living someone else's life and that it had made me miserable for far too long.

Every single thing in my life had suffered in some way or another because of my secret. 

I had told myself far too many times that superficial crap would make me happy and it never worked. 

I had told myself far too many times that if I could "just be better" I would be happy and that hadn't worked either. 

The reality finally hit me that I really didn't have much to lose by coming out besides people who wouldn't be able to accept me for who I was, and for the first time I realized that I didn't need those people in my life to make me happy. I had to make myself happy. 

So I decided to take the chance. 

The chance that I spent so many years refusing to take. 

The chance that I never thought I would take.

The chance that would hopefully end in me finding the true happiness that I had never been able to find before. 

However, I did not get to this place of happiness alone. There were many voices and events that enabled me to get there. 

There were the voices of celebrities like Ellen Page, Portia DeRossi, and, of course, Ellen DeGeneres, as well as others who had shared their personal experiences and how their lives had changed for the better after coming out, the voice and support of my best friend who continually told me that she just wanted me to be happy, the voice of my long-time therapist who helped me explore what good could come out of living my truth, rather than what bad could happen, and the voice of another therapist who once said to me, "You can never experience true happiness when you are not living authentically." 

There was one voice in particular, though, that truly helped me find the courage that had been waiting so many years to be found, and that voice belonged to M. 

I can't really say why it was her voice that ended up finally getting through to me, but I can at least say that I realized soon after I met M that I actually liked myself whenever I was with her, which was a completely new feeling that I hadn't ever felt before. I wasn't even sure why I felt that way at first, but I eventually came to the conclusion that it was because she was somehow able to make me feel safe for the first time in my life, and in that safety, I was finally able to find me. 

The true me.

The me that I had spent so many years looking for.

The me that I had almost given up on.

And once I realized that I finally found this me that had been lost so long ago, I was able to take a deep breath and start writing.

Go here to read part 4!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Weekly Schedule Display

Believe it or not, I've been working on a couple projects. The first little project is finished and has been for a couple weeks now, I just need to find the time to write the post! It's coming though, I promise!

{"Yeah, yeah...we all know how flaky you are, Jen..."}

Anywho, the second project, a family "command center" is actually still in progress (getting organized sure requires a lot of organization). However, I thought I would give you a peek of the one part that I've actually finished, which is the weekly schedule board. I got the idea from Pinterest of course (along with all the other ideas that I'm stealing for my own command center). I thought it would be the perfect addition considering our schedules can be so crazy, especially with our...ahem...current living situation, which is a little more complicated than others and pretty much deserves its own post. 

Anyway, here it is! 

I just bought a collage frame, that had 8 individual frames in it for each day. The extra one in the upper left-hand corner is perfect for adding notes about the week's events. I used regular scrapbook paper for the backgrounds to add a little pizzazz. It's easy to change out with the seasons or holidays if you like that sort of thing, which obviously I do considering it's obviously got a bit of Halloween spirit goin' on! 

So much cuter than a boring old white dry-erase board, don't you think? 

(PS: it's also a great way to keep the kids less confused about which parent has them on what day, which is something we are just getting used to in our house.) 

I can't wait to see it up on the wall with the rest of the command center (if I ever get around to finishing it.)

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Removing the Closet Door: "Coming Out" Pt. 2

 If I had only known...

In my last post, I shared a big secret that I'd been keeping for approximately 20 years. If you haven't read it, you can go here to do so. It was pretty much the most important post that I've ever written and I still don't fully know the effects of it. Whatever they are though, I'm glad that I finally had the courage to do it.

I'm sure that those of you who read it probably have a lot of questions, especially those of you who are friends and family members of mine. I will attempt to address some of them in this particular post.

First, I want to say that I was born this way. I did not choose to be a Lesbian. I think it's very important that I say this because, eventually, if we repeat it enough, us Gays (and our allies) might get it through some of your straight heads that we are human beings just like everyone else, we can't change our "gayness" any more than a straight person can't change their "straightness". We can hide it, just like you can hide it (which is, of course, what I did for waayyy too long.), but that can make for a pretty difficult life. Mmmkay?

All right. Moving on...

I don't remember much of my early childhood, which I guess isn't very common. I do remember being 8 and realizing that I was different than others, even though I didn't know how I was different than them. I just never quite felt like I fit in. When I was in 5th grade, I remember trying to hold my friend's hand and her getting really embarrassed because, as she put it, "girls weren't supposed to do that anymore" as she let go.

It wasn't until I was 13 or 14 though, that I knew for sure that I was Gay, when a little light bulb went off in my head after I got a crush on one of my female teachers at school. It was around that time that I also realized that I had never really noticed boys in the same way that I noticed girls, and I never really had the same feelings for them that other girls seemed to have. I was pretty ambivalent, actually. The only thing I did know was that I could never, ever tell anyone about what I'd discovered about myself. I saw how much kids made fun of other kids who they just suspected were Gay and I was NOT going to be one of those kids!

It was then that I started my acting career. I played the straight, boy crazy, teenage girl and made sure that everyone "knew" that I liked boys and not girls. In order to "prove" this, I even became a little promiscuous with a couple of them, even though I remember laying there during sex feeling absolutely nothing, aside from some chafing.

I  did have one boyfriend in high school, who I didn't sleep with, probably because he was also Gay (He ended up coming out a few months after we broke up). We were still really good friends, though and we even went to our Senior Ball together. The day of the dance, we went to an amusement park with a group of other kids. While we were there, I finally got up the guts to tell him my little secret. I knew of all people he would understand and be there for me.

I remember getting really shaky as I brought it up to him.

I think it went kinda like this:

"Hey, Matt?...Ummm....How did you realize that you liked guys?...Ummm....because....I ....think. Well, I think I might like girls."

He replied with a little smile, while he grabbed my hand and winked at me. "Oh, don't worry! Everybody has a little Gay in them. You're just fine."

(Matt, you and I need to have a serious talk...)

Well, that was a relief! I wasn't a Lesbian after all, I was just like everybody else! Phew!

Only I was. I just didn't want to be. Deep down, I knew this.

I was already so insecure about so many other things. Being Gay was just one more thing about me that was "wrong" and I just couldn't deal with it. I had grown up in a Mormon community where little girls were supposed to grow up, find a man, get married, and have babies and even though I stopped going to church when I was 16,  I had spent years in Sunday school being taught that it was the right thing to do.

So that's what I did.

I met a wonderful guy, and as weird as it seems, I did really fall in love with him. He was kind and loving and he treated me well. Nobody else had ever made me feel special like he did. He really was an amazing guy. I don't think I consciously tried to forget who I really was, but I think I let my desire for being "normal", which to me, meant getting married and living happily ever after, take over.

He asked me to marry him when I was still 18. We married when I was 19 and by 20, I was a mom. I became a mom again at 26 with our second child.

Looking back, I realize now that I never had time to really figure out who I was and come to terms with it. I was too busy trying to do everything possible to cover it up, and making sure my life moved forward at 90 miles an hour was my way of doing that.

Every once in a while, I would realize that my attraction to women wasn't just a curiosity, but the thought of giving up a life that I had purposely and carefully manufactured was too terrifying, so I continued to pretend to be someone I wasn't, which ended up causing a lot of pain in my life. However, I would never regret getting married or having my children. Without them, I would have been even more lost. Yes, living a manufactured life was extremely difficult and painful, but it also taught me a lot of lessons along the way and I really do feel that it was the path that I was meant to take.

Anyway, after 15 years of hiding who I was, I finally told my therapist in 2009. We discussed it for almost a year before I finally had the courage to tell my husband. At first my husband and I were optimistic. We read about other couples like us and how they dealt with what's called a "Mixed Orientation Marriage". Some opened up their marriages and just lived together like roommates. Some remained intimate, but the Gay spouse dated outside the marriage. Some stayed monogamous without any changes. We discussed all of these possibilities and also decided to try counseling, but our counselor was not a good one. She was not helpful in any way and we left our sessions more confused than we were when we went in. Not wanting to put our kids through a divorce, and not wanting to cause more pain for either one of us, we chose to stay monogamous. A few months later though, he told me he just couldn't do it anymore, and we decided to separate in early 2011.

The separation was hard on both of us. We had been together for so many years and now we had to learn to be alone. We moved into the same apartment complex, but into different apartments thinking that it would be best for the kids, but it only made things worse by blurring the lines. He didn't seem to be able to know how to give me my own space and independence and I didn't seem to know how to set those boundaries. I think it also made it harder for the kids because they didn't have a routine and they didn't understand why dad could come over and watch movies with mom one night, but that he would eventually have to go home.

While we were separated, my husband didn't date and I only dated one or two people. After several months of both of us being unhappy, we decided during Christmas break, that we would move back in with each other for our children. I guess we figured that if we weren't any happier apart from each other, we may as well be together for our kids. Besides that, we were still really good friends, so why not give it the old college try?

In hindsight, it wasn't the smartest thing to do...

However, moving back in together did mean that I could continue to keep hiding my secret from everyone I knew, with the exception of my best friend and one other friend that I had told. As far as everyone else was concerned, I was "Holly Housewife" and I wanted to keep it that way. There were times when I would think about telling my dad, or my other family members, but I was always able to stop myself just in time. I guess I just wasn't ready.

Things went pretty well for us after we got back together and we generally got long pretty well, too. We thought we were doing so well, in fact, that last year we decided to build a new home for our family because we wanted to give our children the stability that we felt they needed after moving around so much.

Again, that wasn't the smartest thing to do, but we thought it was the right thing to do.

I started having panic attacks shortly after our money became non-refundable. I knew in my heart that I was making a mistake, but my heart ended up being overridden by my desire to give my children a stable, normal, happy childhood, unlike the one that I had. I mistakenly thought that by being my true self, I would be doing a disservice to them. Let me unequivocally state right now that if you are a parent, you are doing a disservice to your children by NOT being your true self. I know that in my case, I had a harder time being the kind of mom they needed because I was too scared to be myself first, and a mom second.

I did tell my husband about half way through construction that I really didn't think I could promise him any type of future. I knew deep down that I was starting to get tired of being someone who I wasn't. In what he now admits was denial, he took my hand and kissed it and said we would be okay. I repeated myself again and still he assured me it would be okay.

But it wasn't okay, obviously.

Shortly before the house was finished, I approached him again and said that I wanted him to think about living in separate bedrooms. We weren't the happily married couple that we were trying to be and I wasn't the straight Susie Homemaker that I was trying to be. It had become extremely difficult to sleep next to him every night, knowing that I could never give the kind of love that he deserved, more so knowing that I could never give him a part of myself that every person should be able to give to the person they love. Often times, I would lay next to him at night, staring at him while he was sleeping, with tears rolling down my cheeks. I would wish and wish that I could be the wife that he deserved, but I knew that there was no fairy godmother out there to grant that wish.

I knew that this role that I was playing, that I had played for so long, was about to end, but I was terrified of what my life would look like without the security of that role. I had grown so comfortable with living my lies that I couldn't even wrap my head around the idea of living my truth. My lies were predictable and safe. My truth was not.

However, the lies were really becoming to difficult to live with. I often slept until 2 or 3 in the afternoon, just so that I didn't have to face the day. I started to avoid my husband because of the pain I felt when I looked at him. I started to withdraw from my family, my friends, and even my children. It was becoming more and more difficult to say why mommy wasn't feeling well today, when mommy didn't feel well yesterday either. Sometimes I would even wish while I was falling asleep at night, that I wouldn't ever have to wake up again. It was starting to get pretty scary in my head and I was starting to feel myself sink even deeper into depression.

Then one day, as I laid in bed counting the hours away, it hit me. I was going to have to make a choice. I could live as the person that I truly am and always was, or I could live as the person who I wanted everyone to think I was. The latter hadn't been working out for me for quite a long time. So, for the first time in my life, I chose to start working on the former.

One night, as we sat watching T.V., I  finally told my husband about everything that I was going through and we started talking. We talked all night long. It was a very deep conversation, maybe the deepest we've ever had, and it opened up the gates for some other really deep conversations between the two of us. It was after several of those conversations that we decided the best thing to do was to start sleeping in separate bedrooms, and prepare for separate lives. We realized that we both needed to be happy one day and that it was never going to happen if we continued to pretend like we were something that we weren't.

A lot has happened since then.

My husband and I have continued to sleep in separate bedrooms and we no longer live as a husband and wife. Basically, we are roommates. Our plan is to try to keep this home for our children if it's at all possible and we are in the process of figuring everything out when it comes to that and other things. At this point, we wouldn't be able to sell it anyway because we are bound by our HOA agreement which states that we cannot sell it for a predetermined amount of time. I think this is probably the part that is hardest for people to understand about our situation, but it is working for us. In our minds, we are separated and will eventually be divorced. The fact that we live in the same house doesn't change that for us. We have separate finances and separate social lives, and yes, separate dating lives.

We sat down with Diva a few weeks ago and I told her the truth with my husband sitting next to me for support. I could not have asked for a better response from her. She has been amazing. She told me right away that I was still her mom and she still loved me no matter what, Gay or straight. She has continued to be supportive. I have to say it makes me pretty proud that I've raised such a loving and accepting child. Her support means everything to me.

I also told my dad, brother, and sister the truth,which is something I never thought I would be able to do. Unfortunately, I don't exactly have an adorable YouTube video to show you with everybody cheering and clapping their hands, but I'm hoping they will come around.

I've also told some more of my friends and have found a lot of support there, so far. However, I'm still well aware that not everyone will be supportive and that not everyone will want to remain in my life.

Speaking of dating...

I'm actually in a relationship with an amazing person, who I will call M. She makes me very happy and I hope I make her happy too. My husband has met her and they get along pretty well, even though I know it's not easy for him. My children have also met her and they both like her. Diva and M love to joke around together and are always sending funny little texts to each other. In fact, M is actually one of the reasons why I decided it was time to come out, though she has never pressured me to do so. I love her and I'm proud to have her in my life. That's not something that should be hidden. The one promise I made to myself during all those years that I was too scared to tell people who I was, was that if I ever did meet someone I would never hide them. I just don't feel like it's right to hide the person that you love.

(Okay, maybe if they're really ugly....)

Anywhooo....You might still be wondering why I, not only made the decision to come out, but why I also decided to share such a personal story with you. Lucky for you, I'm planning on explaining all of this in my next post.

For now, I'm just hoping that this particular post helped you understand even more about me and my journey. Maybe it will help some of you out there who are Gay see that there is one more person in the world who knows what it's like to go through what you are going through. Maybe it will help some of you who are straight, but who have friends or relatives who are Gay, understand a little bit more about what it can be like for us prior to the moment that we tell you that we are Gay.

If you'd like to know more about my journey, you can go move on to part 3 in order to find out why I decided to share my story.



It's Time to Remove My Closet Door: "Coming Out" Pt.1

We all have secrets we keep.

Some are pretty small and innocuous, causing no harm and we may even forget we kept them.

Some of them are quite the opposite though, and these are the secrets that often cause the greatest harm to both the secret keeper and to those who the secret is kept from.

Those of us that carry the burden of these types of secrets eventually learn to live with them as a constant companion, along with the guilt and shame that often accompanies them. They weigh heavily on us, but we still do everything we can to try to protect them. For some reason, we feel that the outcome from sharing these deep, dark secrets will be far worse than the pain that we feel from keeping them. The pain, however, is relentless. It never dissipates and it never goes away no matter how hard we try to ignore it. In fact, the opposite happens. It continues to get worse. We suffer and our relationships suffer. However, we still remain silent. Nothing, we tell ourselves, is worth the cost of sharing our secret, so we lie instead.

We lie to our friends. We lie to our family. Most of all, we lie to ourselves.

We become excellent actors and actresses that continually deliver Oscar winning performances every single minute of every single day.

We manufacture incredible facades that even we can become fooled by.

We do everything possible to make our horrible secret go away.

and still, it refuses to leave.

(In fact, it raises the finger at us.)

I happen to know a lot about secrets like the ones that I am describing, because for the last 20 or so years, I've been carrying the burden of hiding my own deep, dark secret and in doing so, I've watched myself  lie to everyone I love, terrified that I would be hated by them if I dared tell them the truth. I've watched my relationships suffer because of these lies, I've watched myself become deeply depressed because of my inability to make my secret go away no matter how hard I wished it to and I've also watched myself do some pretty self-destructive things as a result.

My particular secret nearly killed me.

More than once.

However, none of the actions and consequences above were ever enough to get me stop hiding, so instead I  stood and cheered for those who proudly stand up for their rights, while staying silent about how those rights pertained to me. I watched others bravely tell their truth, while hiding mine. I taught my children the importance of not being afraid to be who they are, while being terrified of who I am, and I argued passionately for equality and compassion, while refusing to share my reasons for being so passionate.


Because, of fear.

Fear of what people would think.

Fear of what people would say.

Fear of what people would do.

Fear of what my life would look like if I were to tell people the truth.

I cannot begin to tell you what a toll it takes on someone who lives in a constant state of fear, but I will tell you as someone who has lived in that state for the majority of my life that it's absolutely exhausting and eventually you realize your either going to die in that state, without ever fully enjoying your life or you're going to have to get tired of living that way and then do something about it.

Luckily, I got tired.

I got tired of being scared.

I got tired of lying.

I got tired of being someone I wasn't.

Most of all, I got tired of keeping a secret that nobody should feel like they have to keep.

So after several years of therapy along with the support of the very few people on this entire earth who knew my secret, I  finally decided to stop hiding and masquerading as someone else, and to start living my life instead of the one that I manufactured. I decided that I was going to live as the real me. Not the me that I had created.

The real me is a 34 year old, Stay-At-Home mom of two living somewhere in Salt Lake City, Utah. I'm also a college student majoring in Social Work. I live in a cute little house with a picket fence, and drive a 2005 Honda Pilot with 160,000 miles on it. I recycle religiously and feel terribly guilty when I don't. I spend way too many hours driving kids to and from lessons, helping with last minute school projects, and nagging them to brush their teeth. When I have the time, I like to play with my makeup collection or work on various home decor projects. I love cupcakes, Diet Coke, the color pink, and social documentaries. One of my greatest dreams is to see the Eiffel Tower and if I could live anywhere, it would be on a beach, preferably a tropical one. I enjoy quoting lines from several of my favorite movies, including, Wayne's World, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, Empire Records, and Dumb and Dumber. I wear yoga pants just to make people think that I give a crap about physical fitness and my lucky number is 5. I'm also a lesbian.

There you have it.

My secret, the one that I've been carrying around for the majority of my life, is now no longer a secret, and unless you think yoga pants are something that a person should be ashamed of,  you probably guessed correctly by assuming that it is the last sentence in the above paragraph, the one that contained just four little words (Well, five if you count "I'm" as "I am"), as that secret.

I'll let you have a minute to let that sink in, in case you need it.

In the meantime, here's a visual aid for those of you who learn better that way.

I guess this means that I'm officially "out" now.

All it took was 20 plus years of hell and the four cupcakes I ate while writing this post.

{I guess that means that, in addition to being a Lesbian, I'm also procrastinator and a stress eater.}

The important thing though, aside from the fact that I obviously need a cupcake intervention, is that the hell that comes with living a false life is finally over. I no longer have to live with the weight of  that huge secret on my shoulders. I no longer have to live with the fear of someone figuring it out, and I no longer have to live with it haunting me no matter how hard I tried to ignore that it existed.

I can finally live a real life now, rather than the one that I created out of fear and I can finally live this real life as who I really am, rather than as a character that I created.

I can live. I mean, really live, which is something that I honestly never thought would happen. It certainly wasn't easy. In fact, my journey to this new place is definitely the hardest one that I have ever taken in my life. As a matter of fact, It took years to get here. Years of living in denial and trying to convince myself that I could live as someone who I wasn't. Years of feeling like a hypocrite because I could accept, love, and fight for the rights of others like me, but just couldn't seem to accept, love, and fight for myself.Years of pretending. Years of lying. and years of fear.

But, I finally did it.

I finally got to a place where I could look at my reflection in the mirror and have one less reason to hate myself.

I finally got to a place where I could look another LGBTQ person like me in the eye and not feel the guilt associated with being a coward and a hypocrite.

I finally got to a place where I can handle the loss of family and friends because they are unable to accept me due to the fact that I'm a Lesbian.

I finally got to a place where I can handle being judged, treated differently, and even hated for who I am (even though it still pisses me off).

I finally got to a place where I can say the words, "I'm Gay" out loud so that others can hear it, instead of just whispering them silently to myself, hoping nobody would ever figure my secret out.

I finally got to a place where I can be me.

And that's a good place to be.

I have to say that it's also a much better place than the one where I was all those years ago when I realized that I wasn't like the other girls I knew who would argue over who was cuter on Saved by the Bell, Zach or Slater, while I sat quietly next to them paying far more attention to Kelly Kapowski, but not really understanding why, and it sure as hell is a much better place than the one that I was in for a couple decades after I realized that I was different than those other girls, but refused to move from because I was too scared of what people would think or say.

So, I think I'll stay here in this groovy little place a while and enjoy it, if you don't mind. Actually, I think I'll stay here even if you do mind, so mind or don't mind. That's completely up to you.

In either case, I'm still the same person I was before you read this post. I haven't changed at all during the time that it has taken you to read it. The only thing that's changed is that you now know about a part of me that you didn't know about before you started reading and now that you know about that part of me, you get to choose what to think about me from here on out. I hope that you will still accept me, but even if you don't, I'll be okay.

I'll live.

I've lived through much worse.



P.S. - Obviously, there is much more to the journey that I've taken to get to where I am now, and I'm sure that some of you would like to know more about it, what my current situation is, and why I finally decided to come out. I apologize that I didn't include it in this post, but I will be posting more about it all very soon. I promise.

P.P.S. - Sincere apologies to any of you who feel misled because you were expecting a blog post about my real closet door.

(Update: You can read part 2 by going here )